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Plant Physiol. 1999 Feb;119(2):531-42.

The xanthophyll cycle modulates the kinetics of nonphotochemical energy dissipation in isolated light-harvesting complexes, intact chloroplasts, and leaves of spinach

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Robert Hill Institute, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.


We analyzed the kinetics of nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (qN) in spinach (Spinacia oleracea) leaves, chloroplasts, and purified light-harvesting complexes. The characteristic biphasic pattern of fluorescence quenching in dark-adapted leaves, which was removed by preillumination, was evidence of light activation of qN, a process correlated with the de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle carotenoids. Chloroplasts isolated from dark-adapted and light-activated leaves confirmed the nature of light activation: faster and greater quenching at a subsaturating transthylakoid pH gradient. The light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b-binding complexes of photosystem II were isolated from dark-adapted and light-activated leaves. When isolated from light-activated leaves, these complexes showed an increase in the rate of quenching in vitro compared with samples prepared from dark-adapted leaves. In all cases, the quenching kinetics were fitted to a single component hyperbolic function. For leaves, chloroplasts, and light-harvesting complexes, the presence of zeaxanthin was associated with an increased rate constant for the induction of quenching. We discuss the significance of these observations in terms of the mechanism and control of qN.

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